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Transcriptomic signatures of progression to TB disease among close contacts in Brazil.

BACKGROUND: Approximately 5% of people infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis progress to tuberculosis (TB) disease without preventive therapy. There is a need for a prognostic test to identify those at highest risk of incident TB, so that therapy can be targeted. We evaluated host blood transcriptomic signatures for progression to TB disease.

METHODS: Close contacts (≥4 hours exposure per week) of adult patients with culture-confirmed pulmonary TB were enrolled in Brazil. Investigation for incident, microbiologically-confirmed or clinically-diagnosed pulmonary or extra-pulmonary TB disease through 24 months of follow-up was symptom-triggered. Twenty previously validated blood TB transcriptomic signatures were measured at baseline by real-time quantitative PCR. Prognostic performance for incident TB was tested using receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC) analysis at 6, 9, 12, and 24 months of follow-up.

RESULTS: Between June 2015 and June 2019, 1,854 close contacts were enrolled; Twenty-five progressed to incident TB, of whom 13 had microbiologically-confirmed disease. Baseline transcriptomic signature scores were measured in 1,789 close contacts. Prognostic performance for all signatures was best within 6 months of diagnosis. Seven signatures (Gliddon4, Suliman4, Roe3, Roe1, Penn-Nicholson6, Francisco2, and Rajan5) met the minimum World Health Organization target product profile (TPP) for a prognostic test through 6 months; three (Gliddon4, Rajan5, and Duffy9) through 9 months. None met the TPP threshold through 12 or more months of follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS: Blood transcriptomic signatures may be useful for predicting TB risk within 9 months of measurement among TB-exposed contacts, to target preventive therapy administration.

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